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The End-of-the-Year SWOT ...

Oct. 1, 2006
As the new year approaches, I find myself looking over 2006 and asking how I can make 2007 more profitable and fun.


As the new year approaches, I find myself looking over 2006 and asking how I can make 2007 more profitable and fun. I don’t know where to start.


Congratulations for desiring to put your practice under the microscope.Awareness is the first step, so for each of the eight areas, write your answers to the following questions:

S: Strengths - What are the strengths of this area? What do I like?

W: Weaknesses - What are the weaknesses?

O: Opportunities - How would I like it to be?

T: Threats - What is standing in the way of having it how I want it?

The eight areas to explore and questions to ask are:

Employees - I wrote about motors and anchors in a previous column. Who is on your team, and how is each faring? Are they in positions that play up their strengths? What needs to change, and what’s stopping you from changing it?

Hygiene department - Is your hygiene production where it should be? Are your hygienists valued members of the team, or are they just doing a job? How is the recall system working? If you could have an ideal hygiene program, what would it look like? What do you need to do to achieve it?

Facilities - Does your office need a makeover? What is warm and welcoming about it, and what is a turnoff? What would you like to change?

Procedures - Are you the dentist who does it all? What procedures do you enjoy doing the most, and which do you wish you never had to do again? What do you want to refer and to whom? What is the picture of your ideal day?

Customer service - What is exemplary in your customer service, and what needs attention? Explore your customers’ journeys from beginning to end.

Systems - Systems can make or break a practice, so make sure you have them in place. If not, start today by writing a systems manual, or purchase one and modify it to your practice. If your current one needs updating, make changes now.

Overhead - Take stock of your numbers and get real about what they reveal. When was the last time you had a fee analysis prepared? Time to make changes?

Support team - Examine your relationships with your dental-supply sales representative, accountant, financial advisor, attorney, insurance agent, and banker. How satisfied are you with these partnerships?

(Use the table on page 71 as a guideline for your practice SWOT.)

The time you invest in taking stock of your practice will produce grand results in the months to follow. Some of the practice areas you will explore by yourself, and others will involve your team. Roll up your sleeves, get real, and put your practice under the microscope. Next month, I’ll discuss how you can use the insights gained to propel you toward your best year in 2007.

P.S. I have a similar checklist for your personal life. If you would like a copy, please e-mail me at [email protected].

© 2006 Stephanie Houseman, DMD

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Stephanie Houseman, DMD
Dr. Houseman practiced dentistry in St. Louis for 25 years. She is married to a dentist, has two grown children, and understands all too well the demands we place on ourselves. She now works with dentists who want to simplify their lives so that they can enjoy themselves again. She is a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute, creator of the 7 Steps 2 a Balanced Life Program, and author of “The Balance Beam,” a weekly e-newsletter about balance and life. Reach Dr. Houseman at or (618) 639-5433.